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The 49ers are placing seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis on injured reserve, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday morning.
Willis has been out of action since Oct. 13 when he sustained a toe injury against the St. Louis Rams. He returned to limited practice two weeks ago, taking part in individual drills, but saw no practice time last week.
Willis will undergo season-ending surgery to repair the damage, as first reported by the NFL Network.
Willis initially said he sustained a toe strain to the muscle and did not believe he would be out of the lineup for too long. He said he thought he’ll be able to return after the bye week for the Nov. 2 game against the St. Louis Rams.
“I really do, but I don’t want to jinx it,” Willis said. “Each day I feel a little bit better, so we’re going to take it one day at a time and continue to work with our trainers and stay focused and prepared.”
Willis’ season-ending injury comes at a time when the club expects NaVorro Bowman to return to practice within the week. Bowman has not practiced since sustaining tears to the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the NFC Championship game.
[RELATED: MRI for Bowman before 'possibly' returning]
Rookie Chris Borland has filled in admirably for Willis. Borland recorded 18 tackles against the Rams and followed it up with a 17-tackle performance on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Borland also recovered a fumble in overtime to set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal.